Saturday, June 9, 2018

Pensacola Radio: WPNN's 'Papa' Don Schroeder 'On The Mend'

'Papa' Don Schroeder
Best wishes go out to former Pensacola rock radio DJ from the 60's "Papa" Don Schroeder, who has been a patient at Baptist Hospital.  Schroeder is a survivor..cancer free for 15-years.

He was born in Pensacola, Florida in 1940 and in 1959 Schroeder recorded a single for Vee-Jay produced by Calvin Carter, featuring his song "Melanie", becoming the R&B label's first white artist.

Schroeder attended the University of Tennessee, and began doing promotions and working as a DJ for radio station WATE.  He recorded more singles under his own name in Nashville with producer Shelby Singleton for Philips Records, and at Sound Stage 7 Records. He also worked with Bobby Hebb in Nashville as well as preparing demos in Muscle Shoals.

He had shows on radio WKDA, and worked for Cedarwood music publishing in Nashville, where he wrote songs with Mel Tillis and Wayne Walker. In 1963 he had his first songwriting success with "Those Wonderful Years", a country music hit for Webb Pierce, whe he returned to Pensacola.

Working for radio station WBSR Pensacola, he became a local celebrity with the top-rated show in the area (the "Papa Ding-Dong Diddley Daddy Debatably Daring Dig'in Out Dash'n Dip Dig'in Don Schroeder Show"), mainly playing R&B music for a predominantly white audience. Schroeder said:

"I dreamed of bringing white people and black people together... and we did it...and packed it out... and never had a problem. It was phenomenal. That was a phenomenal statement in the '60s.... I played 75 percent black music and about 25 percent white music, and the white music I played was white music that I thought my black audience would put up with. But I was playing the black music I knew the white people would love, if they could just hear it. And that’s why we did the ratings we did."

He formed his own production company, Papa Don Productions and in 1966 he produced Mighty Sam McClain's version of Don Gibson's song "Sweet Dreams". Through McClain, Schroeder was introduced to James Purify and Robert Lee Dickey, and produced the pair's recordings as James & Bobby Purify, including the hits "I'm Your Puppet" and "Shake A Tail Feather", which was the first of Schroeder's productions to be recorded at Chips Moman's American Sound Studio in Memphis, Tennessee.  He also produced the 1967 hit "The Letter"  by The Box Tops.

In 1970, he took ownership of radio station WPNN 790 AM / 103.7 FM in Pensacola, and remains the station president.

No comments:

Post a Comment